Still waiting for closure

Editor’s Note: In the January/February issue of Halifax Magazine (, Ryan Van Horne explored why derelict gas-station lots sit vacant for so long after the businesses close. In this follow-up, he returns to one of Halifax’s most prominent development-limbo sites.

Despite remediation work more than 10 years ago, the old Esso station on Quinpool Road was still contaminated as recently as September 2013 and the Department of Environment had still not approved the cleanup. When queried last summer about the type of contamination, the date of an inspection, or the nature of any remediation work it approved, privacy concerns were given as the reason no information could be release unless there was a Freedom of Information Protection of Privacy (FOIPOP) request.

Documents obtained through this FOIPOP request by Halifax Magazine reveal that decommissioning, assessment and remediation work on the site began in late summer 2003 and continued into 2004. Dillon Consulting did this work and they prepared a certificate of compliance and sent it to the Department of Environment.

“The regulator would have signed off on the remediation work that we did,” Imperial Oil spokeswoman Killeen Kelly said in July. Esso is a subsidiary of Imperial Oil.

But in a letter dated February 10, 2009, one of the department’s contaminated sites specialists wrote to the manager of pollution prevention saying that Imperial Oil “was and is still seeking regulatory closure by acceptance of the CoC.”

The former Esso site has been covered in gravel and fenced off with a “No Trespassing” sign since that work was done.

On September 25, 2013, another complaint of “petroleum hydrocarbons in soil” was submitted to the environment department. The Department gave Imperial two years (until September 25, 2015) to clean it up and Kelly says Imperial Oil will comply. Imperial Oil is trying to sell the property. As of February 1, there was no development on that front.

This story was originally published in Halifax Magazine.

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